31 May 2011

BIFHSGO Conference added attraction

Do you have an ancestor lost in London? If it's someone you've tried all the usual approaches with and are still stumped, take heart.
BIFHSGO Conference speaker Helen Osborn, who specializes in London research, is offering a London Research Masterclass as a short pre-conference session on Friday, September 16 at 4 p.m.
This is not a lecture but an opportunity for you to bring and share your London genealogy problems and receive expert advice.
By the nature of the session the number of people who can be accepted is very limited, a maximum of 20. The session is only for those who have already worked assiduously at resolving their problem. You will need to be well prepared to make the best of your time as no more than 10 minutes can be allowed for each participant's problem.
The fee is $15 for BIFHSGO members or full conference registrants; $20 for others. Email Kathy Wallace atkathyw@magma.ca on (not before) Wed June 1 to register for the session.  Payment is then due at the June BIFHSGO meeting.

LAC attempts to change perception of its services

LAC made the unusual move of posting a response, dated 29 May, to a Canadian Association of University Teachers backgrounder for its "Campaign to Protect Library and Archives Canada." LAC stated that the backgrounder contained "several errors, misconceptions and misappropriations" and stating that unless the backgrounder is corrected it amounts to disinformation.

The headings in the LAC response are the following:
1. The backgrounder states that Dr. Daniel J. Caron is the first person to occupy the position of deputy head of Library of Archives Canada who is neither an archivist nor librarian.
2. The backgrounder states that LAC is now operating without a single qualified librarian and archivist in the upper levels of management.
3. The backgrounder states that public access to the services of librarians and archivists has been substantially reduced.
4. The backgrounder states that the quality of LAC’s holdings has been compromised by major cuts in the acquisition of both archival and published material.
5. The backgrounder implies that modernization is responsible for major cuts and compromises the collection. It also suggests that modernization contravenes LAC’s enabling legislation to acquire the full documentary heritage of Canada.
6. The backgrounder claims that holes created in the LAC collection based on the acquisitions moratorium will be impossible to fill retroactively.
7. The backgrounder states that LAC has announced that all its records would be digitized by 2017.
8. The backgrounder states that digitization will scatter and remove individual files from the important collection context in which they are materially located
9. The backgrounder states that digitization will make materials more inaccessible.
10. The backgrounder states that digitization decreases services for specialized research
11. The backgrounder states that digitization endangers Canada’s historical records in their material form – given that the long term accuracy and stability of digital records remains to be adequately tested.
12. The backgrounder raises the question of public-private partnerships, implying that LAC is considering privatizing the archives with numerous and potentially costly consequences.
13. The backgrounder states that regionalization will result in decentralization. It raises the fact that resources are lacking to support a more regional approach to distributing the documentary heritage of Canada and states that costs will increase for individual scholars.
14. The backgrounder states that LAC is not consulting with stakeholders, underscoring the dismissal of the Services Advisory Board.

The full text of the LAC response is here. I was unable to find an online version of the CAUT backgrounder.


CAUT has done a service in raising concerns to the point that LAC saw the need to make this response. 

LAC claim they will be putting in place a much more systematic and comprehensive approach to consulting clients, stakeholders and the public at large. That's a claim LAC management has been making for over a year. When will it become reality, and will it be in a form acceptable to clients?

LAC makes no mention of the newspaper collection where for several years there has been no LAC newspaper specialist, and Canada is falling ever further behind other countries in taking responsibility for digitizing its historic newspapers.

The OGS and National Institute for Genealogical Studies Partnership

When two major organizations in a field decide to work together it's likely something good will come of it. For the Ontario Genealogical Society, and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, both Toronto area-based organizations which have languished somewhat in the past few years, the announcement of partnership initiatives noted in the press release below is a welcome "shot in the arm."

For Immediate Release
(Toronto: May 27, 2011) At its recent 50th Anniversary Conference in Hamilton May 13-15, Nancy Trimble, President of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS), and Louise St Denis, Managing Director of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, signed a mutually beneficial partnership agreement. Both organizations will remain as independent entities but will work closely with one another for the advancement of genealogical research. Reciprocal advertising arrangements are being developed. As well, free or discounted courses, and other promotions, will benefit OGS members. Free use of The Institute Live Meeting Room will be made available for Society and Branch online communication for committees, meetings, workshops, and speakers. This will allow OGS members to be a part of their Society and Branch activities regardless of where they may live. 
“Education is an important component in the role we have in our Society. Partnering with The National Institute will enable us to provide valuable education without re-inventing the wheel. This will be a tremendous benefit to our members”, says Nancy Trimble.

Society members will be encouraged to usewww.genealogywise.com, The Institute’s Social Media website. As an adjunct benefit, all those attending the Conference’s closing ceremonies received a free course from The Institute entitled “Social Media for the Wise Genealogist.” 
A wide array of other items is also being discussed, and timelines for activating those will be released in the near future. In addition to Society-wide arrangements, Branches will be able to take advantage of a number of benefits with The Institute within this agreement.
Louise St Denis adds, “The Internet, and easier access to information, is changing the role of Societies in general. We look forward to working with the Ontario Genealogical Society and their members. Our combined efforts will help provide greater membership benefits to both organizations and the genealogical community-at-large.” 
About The Ontario Genealogical Society
The Ontario Genealogical Society, founded in 1961, is the largest genealogical society in Canada. Its dedicated mission is to encourage, bring together and assist those interested in the pursuit of family history. The Society is represented by a membership not only within Ontario but nationally and internationally. There are more than 30 branches dedicated to research in a specific geographical area or the study of a topic of specific interest. A central research library is housed in the Gladys Allison Canadiana Room of the North York Library in Toronto.
For more information on the Society, its various Branches and Special Interest Groups, please visit their website at www.ogs.on.ca, call the Provincial Office at 416-489-0734, email atprovoffive@ogs.on.ca, or join them on Facebook. 
About The National Institute for Genealogical Studies
The National Institute, a leader in online genealogy education, has been offering genealogy and history courses for over eleven years. They now offer over 200 courses in genealogical studies to help enhance the researcher’s skills.
For those looking to acquire more formal educational training, The National Institute offers – in affiliation with the Continuing Education Unit of the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto – Certificate Programs in the records of Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and the United States, as well as a General Methodology and Librarianship Certificate.
For more information, please visit The National Institute’s site atwww.genealogicalstudies.com, or call toll-free in North America at 1-800-580-0165, or email at admin@genealogicalstudies.com.

More digitized newspapers online

The Quebec Family History Society Roots 2011 conference starts on Friday, and received a publicity boost with an article in the Montreal Gazette.

In preparation for my newspaper talk next Saturday, I went looking for new digitized newspaper content online.

Papers Past, from the National Library of New Zealand, has added two papers in May.
The Auckland Star (1870-1903) was digitised in partnership with Auckland Libraries. The Rodney Libraries are acknowledged for their assistance in the digitisation of the
Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette (1901-1945).

In the meantime, no initiative from Library and Archives Canada. Has LAC even sought any partnerships with local libraries?

30 May 2011

Internet Genealogy: June/July 2011 Issue

The front cover feature article in the new issue of Internet Genealogy magazine, "Google's Archives: news you can use" appears just after Google announces they will make no new additions to their newspaper archive site. Fortunately, Google is not taking away the current facility so Lisa Alzo's article remains useful, especially the section on "five ways to find your ancestors" which is more generally applicable than just to the Google news archives.

Other major articles in this issue are:
Family History Centers: Visited One Lately?
The New Look of FamilySearch
Top Websites for Irish Research
Don't Just Sit There: Volunteer!
Civil Registration Records in Eastern Europe
Write On! Writing Your Family History
Family Tree Maker for Mac: Research Ready
Historic Pittsburg Research Resources
How Safe is Your Genealogy Data?
Get Involved with the WikiTree!
The item on volunteering caught my eye. How to get volunteers is one of the perennial items discussed in genealogy circles. Just last Saturday, Thomas McEntee's broadcast for the Federation of Genealogical Societies which had the theme Genealogy Society Marketing, archived here, saw interest expressed in the chat accompanying the session on how to recruit and keep volunteers. Prompted by others in the chat he made some good points including taking people up promptly on their offer to volunteer.

The Internet Genealogy item focused on volunteering for online indexing projects through FamilySearch. It makes the point of how easy it is to be volunteer, how flexible the system is, and a sense of satisfaction you can get out of contributing in this way. you can get started by clicking the "Get Started" button at the LDS website at http://indexing.familysearch.org

Toronto Trust Cemeteries at FamilySearch

Images and a partial index to the records of four Toronto cemeteries are welcome additions online through FamilySearch.

York General Burying Grounds, better known as “Potter’s Field” operated from 1826 to 1855 and the images include a manuscript index. The burials are recorded in two volumes. 

Registers for Necropolis Cemetery carry dates from 1849 to 1969. They are in 10 volumes available in 26 sections. While there are indexes the organization isn't clear and in one case I looked at a scrawl at the bottom of an index page for surnames beginning with I said that index continued after U. That's not bad if you have the actual register but a trial when using the online version. Fortunately, at least up until 1877 Necropolis Cemetery is name searchable, thanks to the efforts of Jane MacNamara and her small team of project volunteers from the Toronto Branch of OGS

The seven volumes for Mount Pleasant Cemetery are available from 1876 to 1988 in ten sections. Be careful, the sections are not totally in chronological order. 

Registers for Prospect Cemetery are in seven volumes from 1890 to 1979, and 1985. 

There are 14,834 indexed burials and 7,234 images, each with several tens of entries, in total.

29 May 2011

Saskatchewan provincial records not quite yet available at FamilySearch

A new entry appeared on FamilySearch dated May 27 for Saskatchewan Provincial Records. It's described as "Various documents housed in the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan, including homesteads, voter lists, pioneer questionnaires, biographies, military and municipal records, teacher registries, township registers, and Henderson Directories. This collection is being published as images become available."

We are invited to "Browse through 70,184 images". There are 65 batches of Homestead Files listed, dated 1908 from 1634639 to 1679762. But, none of the images I tried to access were available.

Norwich Photographs

From the Rootsweb Norfolk mailing list, via the most recent Toronto Family History Centre Bulletin, link at http://www.georgeplunkett.co.uk/Website/index.htm to thousands of photographs of old Norwich taken by George Plunkett between 1931 and 2006. A well-organized website with pictures of churches (medieval city churches, extramural medieval churches, modern parish churches, & other places of worship), the Castle, almhouses, river bridges, markets, street furniture (!), panoramas, etc.

Also don't forget http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/norfolkindex.htm which covers 868 churches in Norfolk with pictures inside and outside, and descriptions, etc; and http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/churchlists.htm which has 679 churches.

28 May 2011

Deceased Online adds 175,000 Northamptonshire records

Burial and cremation records from the north/northeast Northamptonshire communities of  Broughton,Burton Latimer, Cransley, Desborough, Pytchley, Rothwell and Rushden are being added to Deceased Online.

There are approximately 24,000 records in the first batch of data, dating back to 1888, the largest of which is Rushden.

Photos of all memorials in Broughton, Cransley and Pytchley cemeteries are also included and there are some photos for memorials in other cemeteries.

The remaining 151,000 records are from Kettering's two cemeteries, London Rd and Rothwell Rd, and the town's Crematorium which serves a large area stretching across much of north Northamptonshire and into the neighbouring west Cambridgeshire and south Leicestershire. All are to be online by early July

Genealogy social networks revisited

Just arrived in my mailbox is the June/July issue of Internet Genealogy with an article "Get Involved in WikiTree!" by Elyse Doerflinger. Back in February when I last looked at genealogy social networks that site didn't come to my attention. That was an oversight. According to Alexa it now ranks fifth.

Here are the top five Alexa rankings as of 24 May, 2011

My Heritage, which ranked 3,363 overall still leads the field but has dropped to 4,737
Geni, which ranked 7,498 has slipped to 7,523
Family Link, which ranked 34,888 has risen to 23,643
Genes Reunited which ranked 37, 542 has fallen to 53,542
WikiTree now ranks 293,434

Of the sites listed as "other" in February Efamily has dropped from 925,314 to 1,054,869 while the others have all increased slightly in Alexa rank. http://www.cyndislist.com/socialnetworking.htm has additional sites that rank in the other category, including several with dead links.

One of the absolute musts on a social networking site should be the ability to protect the integrity of your data. You don't want your carefully researched family tree ruined by someone with more enthusiasm than evidence, or who is just malicious. I liked that WikiTree, which is free and advertiser supported, provides for granting graduated levels of access to your data. By contrast, during a recent webinar I learned that there is no such protection for a Geni database although its coming.

27 May 2011

Ottawa DNA Interest Group

A reminder that the Ottawa DNA Interest Group, which operates under the auspices of BIFHSGO, meets this Saturday, at 9:30 am, at Library and Archives Canada in Room 156. I'll be delivering a talk "DNA Testing For Genealogists: Not Just For Men." which will also be delivered the following Saturday at the Quebec Family History Society Roots 2011 conference in Montreal.

Naval Biographical Database

Information on 20,300 people who have served with the Royal Navy since 1660 is available at the Naval Biographical Database. While that's a mere drop in the bucket compared to the five million thought to have served, if your ancestor was a Commission, Warrant and Yard Officer this may be worth searching. A free search returns first and last names, earliest and latest dates for which information is available, search aid (rank), and the number of hits (facts).

You pay for a full report. The site contains examples, so you get a good idea of what you receive for your money, as well as useful background information.

The site is at http://www.navylist.org


Heraldry goes back centuries to the days when knights were identified in battle by the armorial bearings they carried. Heralds kept records which had practical benefit as the authoritative record for purposes of inheritance.

This Ngram for "Heraldry" shows a long-term decline over two centuries. It parallels that for "knight" (not shown).

Today all Canadian citizens or corporate bodies (municipalities, schools, societies, associations, institutions, etc.) may petition to receive a grant of armorial bearings. Having the petition granted is an honour which recognizes the contributions made to the community by the petitioner. While few go to the effort and expense many are curious enough to seek out their "family coat of arms" at kiosks on shopping centres.

With such ancient origins it's little wonder that there are many old books on heraldry. A search on the Internet Archive reveals 918 hits for the word "heraldry". One of them is, according to a blog post by Chris Paton, the original 1909 edition of  A. C. Fox-Davies' book A Complete Guide to Heraldry. Access the work at www.archive.org/details/completeguidetoh00foxduoft. The book which, according to Chris, and presumably in updated editions, is still used as a reference in Scottish universities.

26 May 2011

New Finding Aid for Canada's Federal Voters' Lists, 1935-1980

Library and Archives Canada announces "the launch of an updated version of its finding aid to locate electoral districts in its federal voters' lists collection from 1935 to 1980. 

This updated version now provides for each of the 892 microfilm reels of the collection, the electoral year, the province, the exact name of the electoral district and the page numbers for each microfilm. This tool will facilitate the frequent consultation and use of the federal voters' lists collection by genealogists and family historians.

The finding aid can be accessed at:www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-911.006-e.html"

Ancestry.ca announced  last December that Voter records, 1935-1983, is a Canadian dataset they will be delivering in 2011.

The British Newspaper Archive

A new website is now available introducing the British Library/Brightsolid newspaper digitization partnership. Actual newspaper content won't be available until the fall with the first release of one million pages of pre-1900 newspapers, the initial fruit for a project which should lead to 4 million pages in the next two years and 40 million pages over the ten year life of the agreement.

There is no mention of a cost structure for the service but it would be surprising if affordable short-term subscriptions were not part of the arrangement.

The site is at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ for further information, and you can register to be placed on an information mailing list.

via Scottish GENES

Preserving Family Treasures

On Tuesday I gave a talk on newspapers for family history to Lesley Anderson's second level genealogy class at the Ottawa Catholic School Board. In the question period at the end one query was for advice on preserving newspaper clippings and photographs.

That was an opportunity to publicise the BIFHSGO pre-conference session Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Artefacts to be given by Kyla Ubbink on the morning of Friday 16 September. Kyla is an expert in Conservation, someone whose professional services I can personally recommend having had her conserve a family heirloom book for me.

For further information on the conference, and to sign up for this pre-conference session go to http://www.bifhsgo.ca/cpage.php?pt=22. There's a discount for pre-conference sessions to all who register for the full conference, and conference registration discounts for BIFHSGO members and early registrants. You can sign up by completing and mailing in the form included with the conference brochures which are being widely distributed, and from the above link; or register online at the above address.

Titanic descendants

The following is an announcement from the Titanic Heritage Trust

As the 100th Anniversary of Titanic approaches, Titanic Heritage Trust are pleased to announce the creation of a database of descendants of survivors and of all those who were lost on 15th April 1912.
If anyone has a connection or knows someone who has a connection with the Titanic please contact us.
Also, as part of the 100th Anniversary events are being planned; we are hoping to get together in one place as many as possible of the descendants of survivors and any descendants of those who were lost when Titanic sank.
If you have any information which would help us please contact:
Howard Nelson, Titanic Heritage Trust, The TechnoCentre, Puma Way, Coventry CV1 2TT.
Telephone: 024 76236556, Email: enquiries@titanicheritagetrust.org.uk
via the Federation of Family History Societies

RootsTech 2012: call for presentation proposals

The call for presentation proposals is open for the second Rootstech conference, to be held February 2-4, 2012 in Salt Lake City.

Although presentations on a wide variety of technology-related topics will be considered areas of particular interest listed by the organizers are:

  • GPS and geo-mapping
  • Mobile devices
  • Social applications
  • Imaging and visualization
  • Gamification
  • Cloud-based solutions

I was surprised to see no mention of DNA.

Submissions are due by June 30, 2011. Read the details at http://goo.gl/YxEHE

25 May 2011

TNA podcast: 'Revolting to humanity': histories of mental health

Sarah Hutton, TNA's Modern Domestic Records Specialist, looks at records relating to mental health for the 19th and early 20th century.

"The 19th century ushered in a new way of seeing mental health. For the first time, 'madness' was not a condition understood as an extension of the criminal or poor classes, but as a unique social group in its own right. Central government undertook the beginnings of a structured response to the way in which those suffering from mental health problems were dealt with. By examining the development of this response, it is possible to reveal snapshots of the lives touched by mental illness during this century and the beginning of the century to follow."

One comes away with the impression that there are lots of records relating to the individual at TNA, but extreme difficulty in finding them.

Listen to this short podcast from http://goo.gl/F1EH8

Ancestry adds 1911 census images for England, Wales, Channel Islands and Isle of Man

Images, without name indexes, of some 1911 UK census records are now available at Ancestry. For the time being, the records are available as images only. They can be browsed by county, civil parish, sub-registration district, and enumeration district.

You can narrow down the number of images to sort through by searching the 1911 England & Wales Census Summary Books for the head of household to identify the district and sub-district for the family, but will then have to search manually through possibly several hundred households to find yours.

24 May 2011

Family Chronicle now on iTunes

The following is an announcement for Moorshead Magazines
The iTunes Store now has Family Chronicle for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad! The app is $1.99 (and you get one FREE issue of your choice!) You can purchase the current issue (May/June) and the previous six issues will be available by the end of next week.

Visit http://appshopper.com/news/family-chronicle for details.

Internet Genealogy will be coming in weeks.

Hot technology, in 1851

In 1851 the Great Exhibition, or more properly the "Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations" was held at the Crystal Place in London.

The exhibits were judged in categories Raw Materials, Machinery, Manufactures, and Fine Arts, with these sub-divided into 30 classes, from Class I, Mining, Quarrying, Metallurgical Operations, and Mineral Products, to Class XXX, Sculpture, models and plastic art.

The Report by the Juries includes an evaluation of the state of the art, many with extended essays about various technologies. On photography the jury write:
"That Photography will have a great tendency to depress mediocrity, we may safely predict; that, from the date of the general application of Photography to the illustration of scenes daily passing around us, will commence a new era in pictorial representation; that it will greatly enrich us with authentic records of works, that would otherwise pass away without a single detaining effort from the hand of the artist, owing to their being of too transient a nature to admit of the accuracy and detail necessary to give it value in future ages;—is attested by the various and excellent representations which we now possess ..."
A full copy of the Report by the Juries, which may be of interest if your ancestor was involved in one of the areas discussed, is at http://goo.gl/JKzru

The National Heritage List for England

English Heritage has launched The National Heritage List for England, "a significant milestone towards achieving better understanding and protection for heritage in this country by opening up information which until now has not been easily accessible to the public."

The list includes: Listed Buildings; Scheduled Monuments; Protected Wreck Sites; Registered Parks and Gardens; Registered Battlefields.

23 May 2011

Transcription/indexing survey results

56 people responded to the survey posted here a week ago. Thank you. The complete results tabulation is below.

Three quarters of respondents saw transcription/indexing favourably and many were open to doing so for commercial or non-profit organizations. A majority wanted to receive some individual recognition or compensation for their work, especially if it is used by a commercial organization.

10 people left comments. A couple felt the questions using the word affect were ambiguous as the tendency could be positive or negative.

Evaluating 23andMe's DNA tests

DNA diviners: Valuable service or dangerous novelty? is an article by Joseph Hall published on May 20, 2011 at healthzone.ca.

Because the article is published on a health focused site health is the focus of the article. As with much journalism it looks for controversy and sets it up with quotes like "When you first see your data it says you’re at elevated risk. . . it’s in red and you’re automatically freaked out," by Dennis McCormac, a molecular biologist with the Ontario Genomics Institute. On the other side Shirley Wu, 23andMe’s science content manager claims "there’s no evidence that people are panicking over their results or being unduly traumatized."

The comment quoted I found most puzzling was attributed to Kerry Bowman, a medical ethicist at the University of Toronto, "people who receive elevated risk information have no way to respond, other than to follow healthy lifestyles and seek recommended medical screening." It seems to me that's a highly appropriate response.

Information in the article I'd not seen elsewhere is that 23andMe has 75,000 clients, about half of whom are most interest in the data for its genealogical value. The author appeared satisfied with the genealogically-relevant data supplied by the company.

Another Canadian review of a 23andMe test was just posted here

22 May 2011

40,000 more Scottish burial records at Deceased Online

The following information is from www.deceasedonline.com.

Nearly 19,000 records commencing 1869 for Constitution Hill Cemetery in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire are immediately available on www.deceasedonline.com. The records include digital scans of mortality registers which are rich in detail and include full names, designations of heads of families, occupations, causes of death, places of death, addresses, ages and grave references.

Over 16,000 records, dating back to 1615, for a second Peterhead cemetery, St Peter’s Churchyard, are currently being worked on and will be completed and uploaded onto Deceased Online shortly.

The database for the City of Aberdeen has also been increased with the addition of nearly 4,500 records for the small John Knox graveyard. The records are for the period 1838 to 1894 and have been transcribed from Doric language grave diggers’ registers and include various spelling inconsistencies.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists 2011 Application Guide now free online

The US-based Board for Certification of Genealogists operates a widely recognized certification process for professional genealogists. The vast majority of those certified are US-based, only eight are listed in Canada, one in the UK.

BCG tests applicants skills in: 

 understanding research sources and methods 
 planning, executing, and reporting the results of research 
 citing sources 
 evaluating evidence 
 proving kinship 
 resolving genealogical problems
Find the new 2011 edition of the BCG Application Guide which gives information on the process to become certified and an outline of the skills that need to be demonstrated at http://bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGAppGuide2011.pdf

21 May 2011

Stirrings at LAC

Nothing stirs within the Public Service, with an embargo declared on announcements, during a General Election. That season of winter-like dormancy has come to an end. James Moore has been reappointed as Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Just as bulbs springing to life herald Spring there are sign of new life at LAC.

First, crocuses, together with the National Capital Commission, LAC on Thursday announced Portraits in the Street: Political Culture installation in the heart of Canada's Capital. This outdoor installation, in Ottawa's Lowertown, offers "an opportunity to explore the connections between the nation's politics and its artists, performers and writers." View the press release at http://goo.gl/0eV2N

Second, daffodils, a Maps, Charts and Architectural Plans finding guide.

Third, tulips, Archives Image Search is introduced as a prototype tool that allows searching for digital images of archival material in the holdings of Library and Archives Canada (LAC). A thumbnail for each search result helps you identify records of interest quickly and efficiently. Images refers to all digital copies of documents, such as photographs, works of art, maps, textual material, stamps, etc. This prototype only searches the following fields: Name, Document Title and Location. Future iterations will search more fields and more collections.

With the new season and these signs of life, can we look forward to blooms in profusion from LAC? Remember the online resources promised for this year as recently as December 7?
"Over the next year, LAC will double the volume of its on-line content, mounting millions of genealogy images on its website in partnership with Ancestry.ca. For example, by 2011, Canadians will be able to access digitized images of original census documents from 1861 and 1871"
"By 2011, Canadians will be able to access the entire contents of the National Union Catalogue, representing more than 30 million entries, using popular on-line search engines."
Or perhaps you remember the promise, blogged here on 22 January, about the WW1 service file I had digitized using LAC's digitization on demand service, and the information that:
"there are no impediments to the file ordered being linked, that will happen with all full CEF files requested, and these constitute about a third of all digitization requests. The time frame to get the process in operation will be weeks to a few months." 
Weeks have come and gone, now four months later, the item has not been linked.

I'm looking forward to smelling the roses!

St. Gwynog-Llanwnog, St. Nicholas-Montgomery parish records on Find My Past

24,852 new Montgomeryshire parish baptism, marriage and burial records for St. Gwynog, Llanwnog and St. Nicholas, Montgomery are now available on findmypast.co.uk.

There are: 11,938 baptisms for 1574-1880; 4,238 marriages for 1575-1837 and 8,676 burials for 1575-1882,

20 May 2011

Google Ending Their Newspaper Digitization Project

The following is from Infodocket which quotes a source in Search Engine Land
"Google’s goal to digitize all of the world’s newspapers is ending.
Matt McGee from SEL reports that after approximately 32 months after formally being announced,Google is closing it’s newspaper digitization program.
Search Engine Land also received this statement from Google:
We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives, and as part of the Google News Archives digitization program we collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable online. These have included publications like the London Advertiser in 1895, L’Ami du Lecteur at the turn of the century, and theMilwaukee Sentinel from 1910 to 1995.
Users can continue to search digitized newspapers athttp://news.google.com/archivesearch, but we don’t plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the Google News Archives and we are no longer accepting new microfilm or digital files for processing.
According to McGee, about 2000 newspapers are currently listed in the newspaper directory."
Comment:  It was good while it lasted. Canadians have been particularly fortunate to have Canadian newspapers digitized by Google, especially multi-decadal collections from the Montreal Gazette and Ottawa Citizen.
Now that Google have exited the field, what next?  Whereas national libraries, sometimes with partners, in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand have moved ahead with newspaper digitization Library and Archives have made efforts that can only be described as half-hearted.
Where's the leadership?

Trades Union records in Britain for the genealogist

The most recent Toronto Family History Centre Bulletin has an item on trades union resources at the University of Warwick, Modern Records Centre, including a collection of UK trade union, employers' and trade association archives. They have genealogical guides for: Blacksmiths, Forge & Smithy Workers; Boilermakers; BookbindersBricklayers; Brushmakers; Bus & Cab WorkersCarpentersCarversCompositorsDecorators; Gilders; IronfoundersJoiners;  Lithographic WorkersMinersPainters; Papermakers; Picture-frame MakersPlasterers; Printing Workers; QuarrymenRailwaymenSeamen; Shipwrights & ShipbuildersSteam Engine Makers; Stonemasons; TelegraphistsTramway Workers; Typefounders; Woodworkers.

There is also a 20,000 entry index to obituaries for Stonemasons and Quarrymen from all over England, and some further afield, at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/subject_guides/family_history/stone/ with nearly .

FreeBMD May update

The FreeBMD Database was last updated on Friday 20 May 2011 and currently contains 201,359,803 distinct records (256,030,829 total records).

In this update a large number of births have been added (including mine) for 1933, 1942, 1945-1946, 1948-1949, 1951- 1953,1955.1957. For marriages the major additions are 1940-1941, 1950, 1952-1953, 1955 and 1957. For deaths 1946 and 1951-1953, 1955 and 1958.

19 May 2011

Findmypast.co.uk delivers on England and Wales GRO death index

Findmypast.co.uk have now caught up with the competition with individual name England and Wales civil registration death indexes.  You no longer have to search through pages of results to see if your ancestors appeared on each page.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Ottawa - Baptism, Marriage and Death Records 1829-1949

St. Andrew’s, the oldest Protestant church in Ottawa, now has a publication containing its BMB records. The book is unusual. It contains transcriptions of the records by Donald A. Mackenzie and some magnificent photographs by Brian Glenn of stained glass in the church, as well as supplemental information.

It's available as a coffee table book, and dedicated to the opening of the building housing the new Ottawa City Central Archives as well as the Ottawa Public Library Materials Distribution Centre.

The book is produced by BIFHSGO and published by  Global Heritage Press.

If you're only interested in the data, and a reduced price, it's also available on CD. Find full details on this 300 page publication, and order online at http://goo.gl/XX7aZ

Ottawa Family History Centre Event

Friday evening, 20 May, starting at 6pm, the Ottawa Stake Family History Centre is hosting a series of presentations with well known local speakers. Read all about it at http://www.ottawastakefhc.on.ca/vftd.html

18 May 2011

Following genealogy conferences from a distance

I've followed the two big genealogy conferences which ended last weekend from a distance.

In Hamilton the Ontario Genealogical Society 50th anniversary conference was held from Friday to Sunday with about 450-500 registered. Despite marking a milestone for the Society judging by Twitter and blog coverage it was low key.

Blog postings about conference presentations were lacking. Elizabeth Kipp posted about her experience running the GOONS display, and mentioned that "the conference was very well organized and moved along without a hitch."

Tweets from TOFamilyHistory mentioned events imminent at the conference, and one other who commented on "neet sessions on East European Genealogy."

Feedback afterwards was that there were some good sessions. It probably suffered from competition from NGS which drew away some regular participants.

In the USA the National Genealogical Society held its annual conference from Wednesday to Saturday in Charleston, South Carolina with 1900-2000 registered (Dick Eastman's estimate.) There was much more coverage on Twitter and by blog.

The tweets were about sessions people were going to. There was little tweeting of nuggets of information from the sessions compared to the Rootstech event earlier in the year. NGS did not have WiFi or good cellphone coverage which seems like a sad state of affairs reflecting badly on the venue. Even tweeters at the conference commented on the lack of tweets.

Blogging could have been curtailed for the same reason, and also by a nearly one day outage at the Blogger host site from noon on Thursday. Randy Seaver has compiled a list of conference blog posts at http://goo.gl/ylJEI

One person, at http://bit.ly/iBh4hQ, wrote ",,, the speakers were knowledgeable and accessible first of all, and they talked about topics of interest to me and they highlighted topics that I had not encountered before or often wondered about. Their case studies also offered more practical “hands on” experience for me to hone my skills with and to see how I matched up with the folks around me. The exhibit hall booth vendors were likewise friendly and helpful ...:

While the US genealogy stars were out for NGS, John Colletta, Tom Jones, Helen Leary, and Elizabeth Shown Mills (in alphabetical order) were all on the program, their light is less illuminating for Canadian and British genealogy.

DNA successes story

In a survey being conducted by the Southern California Genealogical Society 20% of folks, up to the time I responded, agreed with the statement "I have (DNA) results and they helped me prove or disprove a family connection."

There are many success stories, but not many that show benefits for both family history and health. One such is an out of this world story of a woman in Roswell using a test from 23andMe. Read it at:

One opportunity to learn more about DNA for family history comes at the Quebec Family History Society Roots 2011 conference, June 3-5 at McGill University where I'll be presenting "DNA Testing for Genealogy: Not Just for Men."

17 May 2011

Webinar: The New Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) Interface

For those who don't subscribe to Ancestry preferring to use it at a library through Ancestry Library Edition there's a helpful webinar covering the latest changes to the interface. It looks at the search form, the results and how to refine them, and the image viewer. It also covers some of the differences between the regular Ancestry and the Library Edition.

I found the webinar helpful even though I have a full subscription as the interface is the same except that extra items don't get in the way of the explanation. Like me, you'll probably learn about, and maybe even remember, recently added features.

Select Introduction to the New Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) Interface at http://goo.gl/pHVvr

16 May 2011

Transcription/indexing survey

More and more organization are asking, and offering the opportunity for genealogists to transcribe or index records. It can be hard work, and also an enjoyable challenge. The organization benefits in it's ability to offer more service to its patrons.

To what extent do you agree with the following statements about transcription/indexing? The results will be shared in a few days.

Ottawa Branch OGS May Meeting

On Tuesday, 17 May 2011, the presentation will be Perseverance, Pranks and Pride: Tales of the One-Room Schoolhouse in the Ottawa Valley by Joy Forbes, Teacher & Author, creator of one-room schoolhouses website at http://www.oneroomschoolhouses.ca/

As usual the venue is Room 156, Library Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St. Ottawa Ontario. 7pm for 7:30pm.

15 May 2011

The BBC Domesday

Find out more about an ancestral community, almost any community covered by BBC domestic services.

To celebrate the 900th anniversary of 1066 and the Norman conquest of Britain the BBC conducted a new Domesday survey, a project that saw over a million people capture pictures, maps, video, surveys, statistics, essays and personal testimonies to help compile a digital snapshot of the country.

It is now resurrected from the original, and defunct, BBC Laserdisc format and available online at

One thing you notice from a 2011 perspective is the lack of hyperlinks. You can search for any location, or indeed any term, but can`t surf on further. The resurrected version, however, does have a social network aspect encouraging visitors to add content.

It`s encouraging to see that data stored in obsolete computer formats can be recovered if considered of sufficient value.

14 May 2011

Deceased Online steps up the pace: adds Wilts, Dorset and Devon records

View Deceased Online Wilts, Dorset, Devon in a larger map

More than 54,000+ burial records from rural Southwest England are added to www.deceasedonline . with the promise of regular additions.

According to the company information:

Over 36,000 burial records from seven cemeteries in the County of Wiltshire head a range of new data for Southwest England now available on Deceased Online. The cemeteries are: Bradford-on-Avon, Hilperton (near Trowbridge), Holt (near Bradford-on-Avon), Melksham, Trowbridge (coming very soon), Warminster and Westbury, with records back to 1856 and all including burial register scans as well as grave details.

Devon With the addition of Cullompton the Deceased Online database now features two town cemeteries in the County of Devon. 6,600 new records, with register scans and grave details for all burials back to 1856, are now available. Nearby, the coastal town of Salcombe has also made its cemetery’s 3,000 records available, and these date back to 1879.
Completing the dataset for Southwest England is Blandford Forum in the County of Dorset. For this cemetery we have 7,600 records, with register scans and grave details back to 1856.

We hope to be adding many more records for the Southwest of England soon. Check out the Database Coverage section at www.deceasedonline.com to find out more details of the above and many more towns and areas in the UK.

Further recognition for Anglo-Celtic Roots

BIFHSGO's quarterly chronicle, Anglo-Celtic Roots once again received recognition at the US National Genealogical Society taking away the runner up award in the Major or Large Societies newsletter competition That's a category ACR has won for the past two years. This year's winner was The Septs, published by the Irish Genealogical Society International.

The Alberta Family History Societies' newsletter, The Chinook, took away top prize in the Local Society Newsletter category.

Congratulations to all the winners, and especially to the ACR editorial team, Chris MacPhail (editor), Jean Kitchen (copy editor), Carol-Anne Blore (assistant editor layout) and Ken Wood (assistant editor photography).

13 May 2011

TNA Podcast: Inheritance in Scotland - testaments and retours

The latest podcasts to be posted on the TNA website is a presentation I happened to catch, and enjoy live and in person, by Bruce Durrie who is Course Director, Genealogical Studies, at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He`s an entertaining speaker.

You don`t get as much out of it as a voice only podcast but it`s still worthwhile for those trying to figure out the Scottish system of wills.

The podcast is at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/

32,000 new City of London burials at FindMyPast

18th and early 19th century London burial records are now added at findmypast.co.uk. The details are:

Number of 
St Botolph, Aldersgate
1754 - 1812
St Giles, Cripplegate
1754 - 1812

12 May 2011

BIFHSGO May Meeting

14 May 2011 at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington, Ottawa

Yet another interesting presentation in store at 10 AM, Unravelling the Anglicization of an Irish Family to be presented by Irene Ip.

Although Irene's father's family was Irish, when he was born he was registered with a Cornish surname, a bequest from his grandmother. She had wanted her family to shed their Irishness when they decided to settle in London, England, and a change of name was the first order of business. Irene was told that the name had been O'Callaghan and that they had come from Cork, Ireland. Irene's story is how, after almost three decades, she finally tracked down her grandfather's family and found the name that should have been given to her father and so to herself. Irene will explain how name variations, together with hasty assumptions, led her on false trails, seriously impeding her research. She will talk about her visits to the Public Record Office, the National Archives at Kew, the Dublin Record Office, the Ottawa Public Library and her unexpected discovery on her home computer.

Irene Ip was born in London, England, and came to Canada in 1956 on a working holiday but decided to stay. She has been researching her English and Irish ancestors for over 30 years but more seriously since joining BIFHSGO in 2001. She was editor of Anglo-Celtic Roots for three years and is presently a member of the BIFHSGO Writing Group and was a member of the team that conducted two writing workshops for the Society.

The "Before BIFHSGO" educational sessional at 9 AM is Tips on Using PowerPoint for Genealogy Presentations, presented by Brian Glenn.

More genealogy help from Wolfram|Alpha

A computational knowledge engine may not sound promising for genealogy, but a recent blog posting at Wolfram|Alpha points out ways their website can help us. There's more than when I last blogged about it.


You can map family relations, like this one for the aunt of the sister's husband. It does have difficulty with more complex relationships like double cousins and step relatives. It also calculates a blood relationship fraction, not the same as the shared DNA which would be nice to have.

Calendar Calculations

You can determine the day of the week for any date. Did you know the 12th of May 1945 was a Saturday (congratulations to those who share a birthday.) Also compute time difference between dates, and other calendar calculations.

Interpreting Ambiguous Words

If you have a word in a document in which you can only make out some of the letters try Wolfram|Alpha's capability to find words that fit the pattern, even when the first letter, or letters, are unreadable.

Also helpful for recreational word puzzles.

11 May 2011

A new version of The Master Genealogist?

Wholly Genes have just released a free beta version of The Master Genealogist, version 8. TMG is genealogy software that I've never got into. Those who do swear by it, other discouraged by its real or reputed steep learning curve swear at it.

If your tempted now would be a good time to try it. The beta version will expire in 30 days.  Find it at http://goo.gl/6GKLV

Deceased Online adds Rushden, Northamptonshire, burial records

View Rushden Cemetery in a larger map

Deceased Online now have approximately 13,650 burial records, with associated burial register scans, available for Rushden Cemetery, in Northamptonshire, from November 1888 to the present. The most recent 3 years are withheld.

Painting the family portrait

As you research further back in your family history the picture of your ancestors fades. All you have left is the begats, who was born where and when, married who where and when, had children where and when, and died where and when. 

Odds are those distant lives were ones of challenge and triumph, but you don't have the option of learning about them from an interview or heart to heart conversation. What you can do is build on what you already know; squeeze more out of the information you already have by looking at it from different perspectives.

That comes across in reading The Pecking Order: which siblings succeed and why by Dalton Conley who is now Dean for Social Sciences at NYU.

Conley is quick to point out that many factors influence how a person develops. Knowing basic family facts doesn't mean we can confidently predict in any particular case. Seemingly random events can have significant ripples across time. Particular talents may trump other factors. But there are some tendencies which when put together with other scraps of evidence may sketch a family portrait.

Here are some of the key points:
  • In a conventional family the children are genetically close and share a family environment, the two biggest factors determining development. 
  • A wealthy family with a bigger resource pie to share can provide more opportunity for the children, including living in more desirable communities with better facilities. 
  • Children of a poor family, or one with many mouths to feed, often have educational opportunities, and future prospects, curtailed for economic reasons.
  • The  resource pie can grow or shrink depending on the success, and survival, of the breadwinner(s) which can differentially influence older and younger children.
  • A local extended family, think of holiday meals with grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, can compensate for or sometimes aggravate the family situation. 
  • The older child starts out with more individual attention which declines as the resource pie gets shared more with increasing family size.
  • Birth order is less significant than family size and child spacing. Often the oldest and youngest (mistake) children in a large family do better than the middle children. 
  • If a parent dies the eldest child at home is often expected to take on increased domestic responsibilities which may impact on education, but also cause them to accept responsibility more easily. Adult siblings who have already left the family home will likely be relatively less affected.
  • Pre-school children often adjust better to migration than older children.
The Pecking Order: which siblings succeed and why by Dalton Conley, published in 2004, received mixed reviews. Some reviewers didn't like the anecdotal style. Borrow it through your local public library or purchase through Amazon which has multiple copies for resale at http://goo.gl/CjQ8k

10 May 2011

40,000 new Gloucestershire records at Findmypast.co.uk

New records from Cam, Coaley, Dursley, Nympsfield,Owlpen, Slimbridge, Stinchcombe, and Uley in Gloucestershire are added to the Findmypast.co.uk parish records collection. These are baptismal, marriage and burial records for 1695 to 1796.

Separating chromosomes and progress in DNA analysis

A couple of DNA related items in the news (technology phobia alert).

A short article in Technology Review holds out the prospect of being able to analyse each member of a chromosome pair individually rather than as segments which are part of one or other of the chromosomes as at present.  This should mean greater confidence in identifying whether DNA cousins are related by descent rather than just chance matching. See the article at http://goo.gl/Mmazd

Meanwhile, as reported in GenomeWeb Daily News at http://goo.gl/rABbe the cost of DNA analysis continues to fall. The company Complete Genomes service "starts at $9,500 per genome for small order sizes to between $5,000 to $7,500 per genome for orders in the hundreds of genomes." Illumina now offers "human whole-genome sequencing services to $5,000 per genome for projects of 10 samples or more, and $4,000 for projects of 50 samples or more.

Such prices do not include the consumer level database service essential for the genealogist.

09 May 2011

Watson withdraws Whitton nomination

Celebrate. According to an Ottawa Citizen report Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has withdrawn his nomination of Charlotte Whitton as the person after whom the new City Archives and Library Distribution Centre will be named. http://goo.gl/G7QH0

Lincolnshire parish records online

Lincs To The Past, from the Lincolnshire Archives, is an attractive website which should get high marks for content. You can find some great resources... if you know how! If you don't you can waste lots of time trying to figure it out.

Find Lincolnshire parish register information by going to http://www.lincstothepast.com/home/, clicking on Advanced Search on the ribbon near the top, then enter your search terms and, importantly, click the button for Images before clicking the Search button.

You'll get an array of thumbnail images which when clicked on bring up the Zoomify image browser. Then scroll around the images until you find what you're looking for. Also look for the term in the list beneath the image.

Overall, it's a useful resource for those Lincolnshire roots, spoiled by poor navigation.

BC and Irish genealogy educational handouts

One benefit for us all of a cooperative program between the BC Genealogical Society and the Vancouver Public Library is a series of multi-page handouts available free on various aspects of family history.

The two most recent are Researching your British Columbia Ancestors by BCGS President M. Diane Rogers; and Genealogy in Ireland by Eunice Robinson.

There are earlier handouts, none more than a year old, on Legacy (Family Tree), Scottish Military, Australia and New Zealand Military Records,and Analyzing Historical Photos, as well as quite a few other shorter ones. Browse them all from http://www.bcgs.ca/bcgs_handouts.htm

08 May 2011

Did your ancestor have an accent?

Was your ancestor noticeable in the community for their accent, and did it have an influence on how they were regarded? Was there an immigrant peer community where they lived? Perhaps they were outgoing enough to fit into their new community without feeling different. Or perhaps the new community was not open to newcomers. The introverted may have had particular difficulty fitting in. Consider these factors as you attempt to understand the family place in, or apart from, the community as you write your family history.

There's a throw away line in a book I'm reading that an immigrant, or migrant, retains their accent unless moved to the new environment before around the time of puberty. In the normal course of events, short of intensive speech therapy, your adolescent accent is yours for life. This is something I can attest to having arrived in North America at age 21. However, my speech is noticeably North American to British ears, perhaps a matter of vocabulary as much as accent.

The British Isles map above is from http://www.mywiseowl.com/articles/British_English. There's an interesting map of North American languages and dialects at http://www.quichua.net/AmEng/index_files/AmericanEnglishDialects.gif

Whitton is a questionable choice

Ottawa City Council appears ready to name of the new Central Archives and Ottawa Public Library Technical Services Facility as the “Charlotte Whitton Archives and Library Building."

It is an unfortunate choice.

In an editorial on 23 July 1954 the Ottawa Citizen commented that Mayor Whitton had "running battles" with the Library Board, "starting with her ill-informed opposition to a bookmobile." These had included her opposing the Library Board choice for City Librarian.

On April 22 1969 there is an article "New Library Stalled by Whitton" reporting on her move for reconsideration by Council of a decision to move ahead on the Main Library.

Whitton was a divisive figure in City politics, an advocate for neither library nor archives. Her sharp tongue, as in her well known quote “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult” was hurtful. In a facility which is seeing welcome cooperation between those two parts of the city administration which have not always worked cooperatively, it would be unfortunate if the facility were encumbered with a name that fails to engender a cooperative spirit.

It's as if the city built a recreation centre for OCTranspo drivers, and then insisted on naming it after Larry O"Brien.

The facility name should better be one that celebrates the city heritage and cultural achievements, not another monument to a City politician whose contributions to the activities of the organizations housed therein are at best dubious.